Raghav Jain, an IPiB graduate student, will be defending his Ph.D. research on August 7, 2023.
Jain’s work in the Simcox Lab investigates the role of the lysosomal lipid bis(monoacylglycerol)phosphate (BMP) on mammalian homeostasis and response to cold. His research focuses on answering some of the basic biological questions about how BMP lipids are regulated and what happens in the absence of regulation.
Jain found that transcription factor EB (TFEB) is a regulatory factor in BMP lipid production: reducing availability of TFEB resulted in a decrease in BMP lipids. Using mice as a model organism, Jain’s research indicated that when TFEB in the liver is reduced, mice were unable to regulate heat production and could not produce enough heat to survive.
“These results indicated that TFEB was regulating crucial processes for cold survival,” Jain explains. “We’ve since found that TFEB is regulating lipid metabolism in the liver – it’s binding genes related to lipid catabolism. Without TFEB, mice seem to have altered energy production, which is reducing fuel for other tissue. That’s making it harder to produce heat.”
Jain knew before his first day in the IPiB program that he was interested in studying metabolism in the Simcox Lab. He first met Judith Simcox, then in her first week as a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, at a dinner for prospective graduate students. “It was one of the best faculty interactions I had,” says Jain of his initial conversation with Simcox. “We had a lot of similar interests and we got along well. I’d actually worked on fatty acids, which are a type of lipid, for my undergraduate research. Then when I did my rotations after I started in the program, I learned that there are so many things I never thought about with lipid biology. It was an easy fit.”
In addition to the research, Simcox’s emphasis on outreach was a draw. Jain participated in the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS), where he spoke to undergraduate students interested in careers in scientific fields about navigating next steps after college.
After graduating, Jain intends to remain in the Simcox Lab into the fall semester to finish ongoing research and articles. From there, he plans on a career in industry, continuing to use mass spectrometry to study lipids and metabolites. “I want to continue using these tools to gain basic insight into our metabolism,” says Jain. “And then, how the processes are messed up in a disease context.”
To learn more about Jain’s research, attend his Ph.D. defense, “Discovery of lipid signaling programs for energy homeostasis” on Monday, August 7, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. CT in Room 1211 of the Hector F. DeLuca Biochemical Sciences Building.